Morehouse College's Class Of 2019 Gets A Big Commencement Surprise Billionaire Robert F. Smith announced during Sunday's commencement speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta that he and his family would pay off the entire graduating class's student debt.
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Morehouse College's Class Of 2019 Gets A Big Commencement Surprise

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Morehouse College's Class Of 2019 Gets A Big Commencement Surprise

Morehouse College's Class Of 2019 Gets A Big Commencement Surprise

Morehouse College's Class Of 2019 Gets A Big Commencement Surprise

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/724921446/724921447" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Billionaire Robert F. Smith announced during Sunday's commencement speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta that he and his family would pay off the entire graduating class's student debt.

NOEL KING, HOST:

All right. Robert Smith is a billionaire investor and philanthropist. He gave a commencement speech this weekend at Morehouse College, and he gave something else, too. Smith had already pledged a gift of $1.5 million to the historically black, all men's college in Atlanta. And then he said this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROBERT SMITH: We're going to put a little fuel in your bus. Now I've got the alumni over there, and this is a challenge to you, alumni. This is my class - 2019.

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.

(CHEERING)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Eliminate their student loans. He's speaking here to almost 400 graduates, pledging to pay off their debts. So this is a gift that could run into the tens of millions of dollars. It is a gift that came with some instructions. Here's Smith again.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SMITH: Now, I know my class will make sure they pay this forward. And I want my class to look at these alumnus, these beautiful Morehouse brothers, and let's make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward.

KING: Morehouse College President David Thomas told CNN the gift gives the students the, quote, "liberty to follow their dreams, their passions."

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